A prominent Mexican journalist who fled threats and the looming specter of persecution in Mexico over a decade ago, has secured asylum in the United States, according to an announcement by the National Press Club (NPC).
The Board of Immigration Appeals, in a recent decision, recognized Gutierrez’s eligibility for asylum after a protracted legal battle to prevent his deportation from the U.S.
In an emotional statement, the 60-year-old journalist expressed his relief, saying, “It has been a long journey, and these past 15 years have been difficult. But today, justice has won. I hope that my case will shine a light on the need to protect those journalists in Mexico and around the world who are working and risking their lives to tell the truth.”
Gutierrez’s case has brought international attention to the perilous conditions faced by journalists in Mexico. The country has witnessed a disturbing surge in fatal attacks against reporters, earning it the reputation as one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.
Article 19, a free speech advocacy group, reported record levels of harassment, intimidation, and violence against Mexican journalists, with an alarming rate of one attack against a media worker recorded every 13 hours.
The NPC has been actively championing Gutierrez’s case since 2017 when U.S. authorities sought to deport him shortly after he accepted the club’s press freedom award on behalf of Mexican journalists who endure constant threats from drug cartels and corrupt government officials.
Gutierrez’s journey to safety began when he left Ascension, a city in Mexico’s Chihuahua state, after being warned by a source that his reporting on military corruption had marked him as a target. The Committee to Protect Journalists also voiced concerns in 2018, stating that his return to Mexico could expose him to potential retaliation for his past exposés on corruption within the Mexican military.
In its decision, dated September 5 and made public by the NPC, the Board of Immigration Appeals cited Gutierrez’s “well-founded fear of persecution in Mexico on account of his political opinion and particular social group membership” as grounds for granting him asylum.
Representatives for the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have not yet issued a comment in response to requests from Reuters news agency regarding this development.